A relatively unpleasant way to go, both for the person in question and those around him. You spend a lot of time with a lot of doctors telling you all the things you should do to eke out those last few days of life. They are not, as a rule, concerned so much with quality of life as they are with pure quantity.

Then, once you decide what treatment you really do want, you spend a few months slowly descending into complete incapacitation, while your loved ones get to attend to your increasing bodily needs.

It is said that it's easier on the next of kin if they have at least two weeks warning, but this whole process seems quite morbid. I prefer something quicker, if it's all the same to whover edits real life.

I attended my mother while she was dying of cancer, lung cancer to be exact. She had the dubious honor of dying in the year more women died of lung cancer than breast cancer. She lived almost exactly 18 months beyond her diagnosis, when the life expectancy is less than a year.

She was quite aware it had been "50 years at a pack a day" that was killing her. But after the first month or so, she made her peace--I'm so grateful, otherwise I don't know how I could have continued.

As these things go, I think it was relatively easy for her. We got into the chemotherapy routine. The long, dull existence of going to 'daycare'--that's what they call it--at the clinic. The long wait until it was her turn. Then the drip in the arm.

She had such small veins, that they put in a permanent catheter to avoid the multiple sticks, often the worst part for her.

But the worst, was the time we couldn't get to the drugstore--stupid traffic--in time to get the anti-nausea medicine. It was the most helpless I've ever felt to hear her--she didn't want me to watch--puke her guts out.

She was a strong woman. She held up. I ran around between job, shopping, little else. Medicare provided some home care, visiting nurses and home-makers, and some neighbours helped out, but by the time she went into the hospice I weighed the least I have ever weighed as an adult.

Most of the decisions were made during the early part, when she could make all those necessary herself--besides, how could I make decisions for my mother?

But the horror for me was watching the person I had known all my life fade away. First, she began forgetting little things, like who phoned, and what they said. Our conversations, often long and involved, became shorter and shorter. By the time she entered the hospice, the relief I felt at relinquishing my care-giving, was met by the desolation of her final loss of the ability to speak.

They said her lung cancer had metastasized to her liver, and then micro-tumors had formed in her brain.

Though in the final weeks, it was pleasant just to sit with her, make tea.

The last 48 were unbearable. She had long lapsed into silence. My brother was there, but we had long since broken over the whole thing--so that was no help.

She was in a comatose state, helped by the sedative they gave her to ease the situation. It just went on and on and on. I took breaks for food, or just to go outside. But I didn't want to go home. It was obviously near the end--and I had received the call before, and I wanted to be there when it happened.

And the sound. Only her lungs were wrong. Everything else worked too well. They sounded like a screeching door. On and on and on it went until...the nurses asked us to leave, while they freshened her up. I am convinced she knew we were out of the room. She was a dignified woman, and wanted us not to suffer that last moment. When we returned--we were just outside the room--she was dead.

I do not regret anything I did during that time. I am glad I had the opportunity to return the care she gave me.

But I will never become involved with a woman who smokes. I will not go through this again.

My mother died seven years ago this month.

Watching someone die from cancer is a horrible thing.

Especially if it is the person you love most.

My daddy has cancer- chronic lymphocytic leukemia, to be exact. We're really lucky because its not very bad yet- my dad is completely normal from the outside. Its only from the inside that you can tell that something is wrong- that his white blood cells are multiplying at an exponential rate.

He still has anywhere from two to twelve years left.

So we're trying to make the most of the years.

Its hard to watch him slow down. The constant bone aches, the "flare ups"- he's just not the same Daddy I used to know.

I wish we didn't know, because now there's the impending fear in the back of our minds... what if this is his last Passover? What if this was the last year we could go skiing? What if...

What if he dies in two years?

My grandpa died of thyroid cancer. I helped him complete his last round of radiation therapy before the cancer took over, and it was a very sad, very special time for both of us.

I remember my grandpa coming to my house to help me prune roses during his treatment and how very sweet those few hours were because we both knew he might never help me do that again. I remember him telling me stories of his youth, and me listening for probably the first time because I knew that I might never hear those stories again. My grandpa dying of cancer brought us together for a few short, sweet months in a way that nothing else had ever been able to do.

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